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Family mourns man, 20, fatally hit by train

Authorities say the man was texting when he was struck by a SEPTA Regional Rail train in Jenkintown on Monday.

Andre Washington, Jr. (Facebook photo)
Andre Washington, Jr. (Facebook photo)Read more

IT WAS ABOUT 4 p.m. on Monday when Andre Washington Sr. saw his son for the last time.

The two chatted in Washington's kitchen in Jenkintown as they waited for their dinner to cook. Then, the man told his pop that he was going to take a walk to his girlfriend's house.

A few hours later, Washington opened his front door and came face to face with Abington Township Police officers.

"I just hit the floor," Washington said. "It was like getting stabbed in the back."

They told him his son, who inherited his name, was dead, struck by a SEPTA Regional Rail train as he was walking on the tracks of the West Trenton Line near Noble Station, off Old York Road near Baeder, not far from that same kitchen.

According to a statement from Abington Police, Andre Washington Jr. had his back to that train as it rounded a bend in the track. The engineer told investigators that he blew the train's horn in an attempt to grab Washington's attention, but that the man never turned around.

The train was moving too fast to stop, and it hit Washington, who police believe was texting a friend on his iPhone at the time of the crash, just before 4:30 p.m.

"It doesn't make sense: He would've heard, he should've heard," the elder Washington said. "We're still grieving. The whole thing is just too much to think about."

Last night, Washington's family remembered him as a hardworking young man, one who was always willing to lend a hand.

"I keep telling everybody he was so kind, so giving," his grandmother Beverly Washington said. "His teachers are stopping and asking when the funeral is; they all want to pay their respects to him."

Washington, who had just celebrated his 20th birthday March 23, was looking forward to his upcoming graduation from Eastern Center for Arts and Technology, where he was studying welding.

He liked to work with his hands, and didn't shy away from a hard day's labor, especially when it came to his grandparents.

"He would walk all the way to our house [in Glenside] in the snow just to shovel our sidewalk," Beverly Washington said. "Every weekend he'd call: 'Grandma, do you need anything?' or 'Grandma, can I go to the store for you?' "

She, like her son, can't begin to fathom why Washington chose to walk on the train tracks Monday.

"My thoughts are all up in the air," she said. "When they told me what had happened, I could barely understand them, through my crying."

Washington's family was starting to plan his wake last night.

They said it will be held in the coming days at the William R. May Funeral Home in Glenside. A Catholic funeral service will also be held for the man at nearby St. Luke the Evangelist Church.